Friday, June 27, 2008

The Weekend Preview

I. THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS

How to Watch Them All:
a. watch the guests "This Week" at 10:00 but skip the Roundtable.
b. Flip to "Face The Nation" at 10:30.
c. At 11:00 AM, watch "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer"
d. Watch "FOX News Sunday" or "Meet The Press" at 2:00 PM ET.
e. Watch the other ("FOX News Sunday" or "Meet The Press" at 6:00 PM.

Guests:
a. Presidential Candidates: Bob Barr (Libertarian) on FOX News Sunday, Ralph Nader (Independent) on This Week
b. Governors: Governor Ed Rendell on FOX News Sunday; Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dave Freudenthal and Bill Ritter on Meet The Press; Governors Jon Corzine and Bobby Jindal on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. Governor Tim Pawlenty on This Week.
c. Reporters/Media: David Sanger on Face The Nation, Seymour Hersh on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Chuck Todd on MSNBC.
d. Administration: US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, OMB Director Rob Portman
e. Senator: Joe Lieberman on Face The Nation.
f. Other: Retired General Wesley Clark on Face The Nation, Campaign Manager Terry McAuliffe on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.


1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):


Topics This Week - surrogates on Supreme Court rulings, North Korea, and the latest on the campaign trail; the Libertarian as a spoiler; Clinton/Obama joint appearance in Unity; "The Q&A Cafe"

(a) Campaign Surrogates: Governor Ed Rendell (D-Pennsylvania) of the Obama campaign and former Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on the Supreme Court's death penalty and gun rights decisions, the president's North Korea switch, and the latest on the campaign trail.

(b) the Libertarian: former U.S. Representative Bob Barr (L-Georgia) on the potential political fall out from his campaign for the White House.


(c) FOX News Sunday Panel:
Brit Hume of FOX News, Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams of National Public Radio on the Democratic Party's show of unity between Senators Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and Hillary Clinton (D-New York) at their joint appearance in Unity.

(d) Power Player of the Week: "The Q&A Cafe" hostess Carol Joynt on her talk show aired at Nathan's Restaurant.

This show, which Chris Wallace hosts, is repeated on the FOX News Channel at 2:00 PM ET and 6:00 PM ET.


2. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - governors on the presidential race and the concerns of the western states they represent, political insight on the presidential race from Chuck Todd.

(a) Three Governors: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-California), Governor Dave Freudenthal (D-Wyoming), and Governor Bill Ritter (D-Colorado) on the Obam vs. McCain race and the issues that concern the states in the west.


(b) Political Analysis:
Chuck Todd on the Obama vs. McCain race for the White House and the latest political news stories of the week.

This show, which is being guest hosted by Tom Brokaw, is repeated at 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM ET on MSNBC.


3. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topic This Week: election 2008.

(a) 2008 Presidential Election: Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois) of the Obama campaign and Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-Minnesota) of McCain campaign on the race for the White House.

(b) The Independent in the Race: Ralph Nader (I) on his bid for the White House.

(c) Roundtable: Ariana Huffington of the Huffington Post, Byron York of The National Review, Hugh Hewitt of Townhall.com and Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation on this week's hottest political stories.

(d) In Memorium: a list of notable celebrities who died this month and the list of American soldiers who died this week.


(e) Sunday Funnies:
excerpts of the funniest political jokes aired on the late night talk shows.

This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.


4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week: election 2008 and North Korea.

(a) The Surrogates: Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) of the McCain campaign and General Wesley Clark of the Obama campaign on the latest steps in North Korean negotiations and the campaign for the White House.

(b) Insight and Analysis: White House Correspondent David Sanger of The New York Times on the race for the White House on the North Korean negotiations.

This show is hosted by Bob Schieffer on Sunday mornings.


5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - election 2008, the war in Iraq, soaring gas prices and Congress, Seymour Hersh.

in no particular order -

(a) the Democratic Surrogate on the Race: Governor Jon Corzine (D-New Jersey) on the war of words between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama on the campaign trail.

(b) the Republican Surrogate on the Race: Governor Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana) on the war of words between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama on the campaign trail.


(c) Gas Prices:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) on the Congressional effort to bring down gas prices.


(d) the war in Iraq:
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on the war in Iraq.

(e) The Democratic Party's Show of Unity: former Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe on the race for the White House, the show of Unity between former rivals Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and Clinton's campaign debt.

(f) Interview: Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker on an undisclosed topic to be announced.

(g) Roundtable: Guests and topics not posted.

This two-hour show is hosted by Wolf Blitzer on Sunday mornings.


II. THE WEEKEND POLITICAL TALK SHOWS


1. "Beltway Boys" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:00 PM ET):


Topics This Week - Gun rights before Supreme Court, Bill Clinton.

(a) The US Supreme Court and the Campaign Trail: how the Supreme Court's ruling on gun rights will affect the race for the White House.

(b) Bill Clinton: Senators Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and Hillary Clinton (D-New York) talk of unity but looming questions concerning Bill Clinton's role on the campaign trail remain.

(c) Ups and Downs: the "Beltway Boys'" opinion on who is heading up and down politically after this week.

Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard and Morton Kondracke of Roll Call opine about the hottest political stories of the week from a center to right perspective.


2. "FOX News Watch" on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 6:30 PM ET):

Topics This Week - Unity in Unity, pregnancy pact, Don Imus' racially insensitive statements.

(a) Obama + Clinton in Unity: how the press covered the former rivals' joint appearance in Unity, New Hampsyhire.


(b) the Pregnancy Pact:
the "real" story behind the alleged pact made between teenage girls looking to get pregnant.

(c) Don Imus: racially-charged statements once again could land radio talk show host and shock jock Don Imus in trouble.

Panelists include American University associate professor Jane Hall, syndicated columnist and conservative talk show host Cal Thomas, magazine editor Richard Lowry of The National Review, columnist James Pinkerton and host Jon Scott.

3. "The Chris Matthews Show" on NBC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Democratic VP running mate, show of Democratic unity.

(a) Democratic Unity: whether Senator Hillary Clinton's supporters will unite behind presumptive presumptive nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois)

(b) Vice Presidential Selection: what Senator Barack Obama should look for in a potential running mate.

This week's panelists will include Katty Kay of the BBC, David Gregory of NBC News, Gloria Borger of US News & World Report, David Brooks of The New York Times, and host Chris Matthews.

4. "Reliable Sources" on CNN (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

CNN does not offer its potential viewers with a preview for this show which is hosted by Howard Kurtz on Sunday mornings.

Some Thoughts On the The New York Times' Hyperbolic Reaction to the DC Gun Decision

"This is a decision that will cost innocent lives, cause immeasurable pain and suffering and turn America into a more dangerous country. It will also diminish our standing in the world, sending yet another message that the United States values gun rights over human life." - The New York Times editorial board in reaction to the D.C gun ban ruling.

If we take out the phrase "values gun rights over human life" and insert, in its place, "values habeas corpus rights over human life," the editorial writers at the paper of record would forgo national security and the people's safety from would-be terrorists in favor of an individual's right to a trial for jury.

And no, an argument which suggests that many would-be terrorists are now errantly being held in Guantanamo without just cause since the same can be said for the homeowner who errantly is being denied a second amendment right to bear arms.

Nor do I buy into the claim that the second amendment was written to provide militias and not individuals with the right to bear arms. Inserting into the Constitution an amendment which grants to the states something which, since it is not specifically mentioned in the constitution proper, would be reserved to the states via the Tenth Amendment, would be an exercise in redundancy.

In either case, a liberal interpretation, which takes into account the time in which we live, would note that the citizens themselves, at the time of this nation's founding, were militiamen. Today they are state-run institutions that would not fulfill the purpose for which the Second Amendment was established - for the preservation of our liberty.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Liberty

Five years ago today the Supreme Court said Texas went too far by proscribing conduct that is within their liberty to do. Today, it ruled against municipal governments that went too far in denying individuals the right to bear arms.

Does this mean that every law which restricts the use of and possession of guns is overturned. Of course not. But it does mean that yes, you do have a right, as an individual the right to keep one for self-defense purposes.

Lawrence v. Texas Remembered

"The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime." - Justice Kennedy

Five years ago today, the Supreme Court belatedly overturned this nation's 13 sodomy laws using the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution which states in part, that "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The due process clause, as it is commonly referred to as, had been used to uphold the "penumbra" of undefined privacy rights first established in in 1965 when the Court invalidated a statute barring married couples from purchasing contraceptive devices (see Griswold v. Connecticut).

Judicial conservatives to this day say we do not have these rights since they were not explicitly written into the Constitution, though they use the more controversial ruling issued in Roe v. Wade, which relies in large part upon the reasoning invoked in Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisentadt v. Baird, as their scapegoat.

Their narrow construction of our constitutional rights is not shared by most Americans. Nothing in the constitution, for example, protects our right to eat or over-eat (un)healthy foods at the diner of our choice yet we take that for granted.
We decide who we are going to associate with and who we are going to share our lives and possessions with even though nothing in the constitution grants us that right.
"Liberty," as Kennedy noted in Lawrence, "presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct."

Conservative legal scholars, realizing this, shift the focus to the particular cases where the right invoked seems too foreign for them to place themselves in the other's shoes and apply the same applicable principles fairly. Hence, the conservatives' emphasis on Roe and not Griswold, when the right to privacy was first invoked.

We saw the Court itself, fail to apply its legal reasoning equally when in 1986 the court upheld the sodomy conviction of a man who was intimate with another man. Legal jurisprudence dictated a reversal. Griswold forbid the state from barring sexual activity that would not result in sexual activity. Roe granted women the right to end their pregnancy and Eisenstadt recognized the equal protection non-procreative sexual rights of non-married couples. There was no justification for the decision reached in Bowers v. Hardwick save for the animosity expressed by Justice Byron White in the Court's opinion, and Chief Justice Warren Burger's concurring opinion - the same animosity that provided the rationale for distinguishing between heterosexual (and consequently legal) sodomy and homosexual (and illegal) sodomy in four states until they were overturned five years ago.

Legal scholars thought gay rights activists had the votes to overturn Texas' pernicious "Homosexual Conduct Law but they didn't know if the majority would use the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause or its due process clause to do so. Sodomy laws of general applicability would have survived judicial scrutiny if the court used the equal protection clause and Texas provided them with the means to narrowly overturn laws designed to proscribe the same sexual conduct for some (gays) but not others (straights).

It did not. Bowers, in the Court's view, was the mistake that should never have been written:

"The Court began its substantive discussion in Bowers as follows: “The issue presented is whether the Federal Constitution confers a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy and hence invalidates the laws of the many States that still make such conduct illegal and have done so for a very long time.” Id., at 190. That statement, we now conclude, discloses the Court’s own failure to appreciate the extent of the liberty at stake. To say that the issue in Bowers was simply the right to engage in certain sexual conduct demeans the claim the individual put forward, just as it would demean a married couple were it to be said marriage is simply about the right to have sexual intercourse. ...

... Their penalties and purposes, though, have more far-reaching consequences, touching upon the most private human conduct, sexual behavior, and in the most private of places, the home. The statutes do seek to control a personal relationship that, whether or not entitled to formal recognition in the law, is within the liberty of persons to choose without being punished as criminals. ...

... This, as a general rule, should counsel against attempts by the State, or a court, to define the meaning of the relationship or to set its boundaries absent injury to a person or abuse of an institution the law protects. ...

... When sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring. The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to make this choice."


The Court, in other words, admitted that it failed to live up to its own principles when the much disparaged gay community at that time sought refuge behind them. The Court failed to appreciate "the extent of the liberty at stake." It sought to "define the meaning of the relationship" it did knew little about and casually dismissed as inconsequential the claimed meaning which those who engaged in the conduct put behind it and it ignored the "emerging recognition" of privacy rights that should have been "apparent" then (one need only refer back to the above cited legal opinions that preceded the ruling in Bowers).

Today we in the gay community celebrate. The promise once denied to us was fulfilled. Five years ago, 17 years too late.

Obama's Summer Reading List

If Senator Barack Obama's team didn't catch this column in Newsweek, they are doing him a disfavor.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Richard Cohen's Distorted Logic

Yesterday, liberal columnist Richard Cohen of The Washington Post said he believes Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) has one advantage over Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois). McCain is a "known commodity," he said.

"It's not just that he's been around a long time and staked out positions antithetical to those of his Republican base. It's also -- and more important -- that we know his bottom line. As his North Vietnamese captors found out, there is only so far he will go, and then his pride or his sense of honor takes over. This -- not just his candor and nonstop verbosity on the Straight Talk Express -- is what commends him to so many journalists."

Senator McCain no doubt earned this country's gratitude and respect when he turned down his captors' offer of repatriation as a POW and the Democratic nominee will have to persuade voters to reject the war hero while this nation fights wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Obama obviously did not serve in the military or find himself brutalized in a POW camp but neither he nor McCain will find themselves in a situation where this cited "advantage" would apply and, had he not flip-flopped on torture, campaign finance reform, and tax cuts, supporters of his could have used this to bolster their argument that he would stand by his principles even when it is politically risky.

Both candidates, however did flip-flop. While McCain flip-flopped on tax cuts, torture, off-shore oil drilling, and campaign finance reform (to the extent that he doesn't believe his wife has to abide by them), Obama flip-flopped on campaign finance and the FISA bills. These flip-flops concern issues which both of these candidates, as prospective commanders-in-chief, will face.

So to argue, as Richard Cohen does, that we know of McCain's bottom line but not Obama's, is politically irrelevant. He is comparing apples with oranges - in this case, the known general or nonpolitical bottom line of a war hero with the unknown political bottom line of another. We can't say one has the advantage over the other in terms of character until we know of the political principles they would not forsake when expediency calls for it.

A case can be made for McCain. Whether we agree with him or not, McCain earns points for his work on an illegal immigrant amnesty package (which this blogger opposed), campaign finance reform, a cap and trade environmental package, and the gang of 14 justice compromise as well as his steadfast support for an unpopular war and his opposition to a gay marriage ban amendment (here McCain and this blogger are in agreement). Obama did not prove his bipartisan credentials yet and his political character, it can be argued, wasn't sufficiently tested yet.

If Cohen counted the number of times both candidates went against the political wind or if he counted the number of times they diverged from the party line - if the columnist used those arguments to bolster his case for McCain's character strength, he might have a point. But he did not. He based his conclusion by comparing irrelevant evidence of known faithfulness to the paucity of evidence of known political faithfulness.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George Carlin RIP

Yesterday one of the greatest political comedians had died but his works live on.

1. Carlin on religion.

2. on the Ten Commandments

3. and my personal favorite - the seven words.

Border Control

Those of us who favor stronger border control can sigh with relief now that the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge made by environmentalists and homeowners. The homeowners' case was particularly weak because it conflicted with the rights of the state to regulate its borders and provide for the common defense. If a municipality could invoke eminent domain to force people out of their homes for a new shopping center, the federal government certainly could invoke it to control its borders.

Now, let's hope the wall is finished before our next president takes the oath of office. Hope, but don't hold your breath.

Question

Can't the Uighur appeal for asylum and can't we give it to him?

Bad Move Obama

Dust off your shoulder the politics of fear and welcome them.
Not all Muslims are equal. Some are terrorists. Most are not.

Pakistan Issue

Senator Barack Obama may have to follow through on on his threat if the Pakistanis do not get their act together.

In the meantime, why do we still provide them with aid? They are not doing anything with them which benefits us.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Nunn

I wonder how Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) will deal with former Senator Sam Nunn's gay problem The former senator not only fought against efforts to open the military up to gays, he fired a member of his own staff when that staffer was outed in a letter.

Will Senator Obama choose the otherwise respectable Nunn as a potential running mate or cabinet post to bolster his national security and bipartisan credentials while raising questions concerning his commitment to gay equality or will he pass Nunn so as not to anger the gay community.

There is of course a third way. Appoint Nunn to co-chair a commission looking into the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The former hawk thinks we have to move toward a nuclear weapon-free society so he would gladly a bipartisan commission designed to look into it and keep him from a position of harming the gay community.

Yep, it's em gays.

Corny but makes the point.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Weekend Preview

1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Obama v. McCain on Flip-Flop Accusations, McCain's fund raising disadvantage, and a profile of the person who keeps the earth "cool"

(a) Surrogates on the Campaign: former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) and former Governor Tom Ridge (R-Pennsylvania) on the flip-flopping charges the two nominees have made concerning off-shore drilling, campaign financing, and the war on terror.

(b) FOX News Sunday Panel: Brit Hume of FOX News, Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams of National Public Radio on McCain's means of competing with Obama in fundraising.


(c) Power Player of the Week:
Kathleen Rogers of the Earth Day Network on how she keeps the earth "cool."

This show, which is hosted by Chris Wallace, is repeated at 6:00 PM ET on the FOX News Channel.


2. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):


Topics This Week: Biden v. Graham on the election race, round table on decision 2008.

(a) Surrogate Debate: Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) to hold a Decision 2008 debate on the "hot issues" for the general election.

(b) Roundtable: Andrea Mitchell of NBC News and John Harwood of CNBC and The New York Times will talk about the political issues of this week.

NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams will fill in for the late Tim Russert.

3. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - energy, oil prices on the rise, and the round table on the Obama/McCain race.

(a) Energy and Oil Prices Panel Discussion: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Representative Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Red Cavaney, and Columbia University's Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs on oil prices and energy policy.

(b) Roundtable: Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd, Cokie Roberts, and Sam Donaldson on last week's major political stories.

(c) In Memorium: notable celebrities who died this month and the list of American soldiers who died this week.

(d) Sunday Funnies: the late night talk show hosts' political jokes that were made this week.

This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.


4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topic This Week: General Election Match-up between Senators Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and John McCain (R-Arizona)

(a) the Surrogates on the Race: RNC Victory 2008 Chair Carly Fiorina for the McCain Campaign and Governor Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico) for the Obama Campaign).

(b) the Reporter: John Harris of Politico.com on the race.

This show is hosted by Bob Schieffer on Sunday mornings.


5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Obama v McCain Surrogates on the Race, gas price debate, the war on terror.

(a) Interview with an Obama Surrogate: Governor Bill Richardson (D-Mexico) on why his candidate is best prepared to get the nation back on track.

(b) Interview with a McCain Surrogate: Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-Minnesota) on why his candidate is best prepared to get the nation back on track.

(c) Debate on the Election: Representative Robert Wexler (D-Florida)for the Obama campaign and Representative Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) for the McCain campaign on the race for the White House.


(d) Gas Price Debate:
Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich for the Obama campaign and economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eaken for the McCain campaign on the rising gas prices.


(e) Foreign Policy:
"Descent into Chaos" author Ahmed Rashid and CIA Terrorist Analyst Peter Bergen.

This two-hour show is hosted by Wolf Blitzer on Sunday mornings.

Textualist Reading of the Constitution to Protect Detainees?

Richard A. Epstein, a law professor at the University of Chicago, thinks the Court used an unnecessarily complicated and dubious line of reasoning to protect the habeas corpus rights of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Having the Court use the text (something Justice Antonin Scalia interestingly did not do here) would have sufficed:

"Nothing in the suspension clause distinguishes citizens from aliens. Likewise, the due process clause extends its constitutional protections to all “persons,” citizens and aliens alike. If the conditions for suspending habeas corpus are identical for citizen and alien, so too should be the conditions for applying it. If citizens overseas are entitled to habeas corpus, so are aliens. Viewed this way, the court did not need to decide whether or not Guantánamo was American territory. Its ambiguous status no longer matters. Eisentrager disappears on originalist grounds."

Perhaps but could not the same be said of the right to a trial by jury, or the right against unreasonable searches and seizures or even the right to "equal protection." Using that logic, a legal (or illegal) resident could challenge laws forbidding him or her from the right to vote.

Using the text would open up a legal mind field which the court's justices were not prepared to go.

A New, Perhaps Far More Accommodating Way to Think of Gay Rights and Gay Marriage

Dale Carpenter is a libertarian-leaning conservative legal scholar who writes for The Volokh Conspiracy, a you-guessed it, libertarian-leaning conservative legal blog. On Tuesday, he posted an article that should have gay rights activists on the left and conservative evangelicals on the right thinking.

Every now and then we hear from about some outlandish case where a gay sues because he or she was deprived of a service typically afforded to a straight person. E-Harmony, a matchmaking web site founded by a conservative Christian, found itself at the center of some heated controversy last year when Linda Carlson, using the state's anti-discrimination law, sued the web site for denying its services to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals seeking a same-sex partner. The archdiocese of Boston terminated its adoption program (though this claim now seems questionable) since a law forbidding discrimination against same sex couples adopting children included no religious exemption.

Conservatives generally use outrageous and frivolous examples like the two mentioned above to justify their opposition to laws protecting citizens from sexual-orientation-based discrimination in general. The overreaching and excessive use of such laws is used to justify their use in all situations, whether the discrimination is justified or not.

A fairer, more accommodation, of these laws is, however is possible as Carpenter hints at in his post. Carpenter, himself a skeptic of anti-discrimination laws, undercuts his argument against them while bolstering the case for gay marriage.

"Instead of gay marriage causing a collision, both gay marriage and religious conflicts with antidiscrimination law are themselves the product of a much larger trend that is moving the tectonic plates of our culture. That trend is the increasingly common view that homosexuality is a natural and harmless variation of human sexuality, that gay people are entitled to be judged on their merits and not on the basis of outdated opprobrium, and that these beliefs should to a significant degree be reflected in law.

Many people in our society object strongly to this trend. I think the law should make room for them to a considerable extent. It should be possible, in particular, to recognize gay marriage and to continue to protect religious faith at least to the extent we have already done so when religious views about marriage diverge from the secular law of marriage. Of course no religion should be required to change its doctrine to recognize gay unions. Of course no religious official should be required to perform a same-sex marriage (or an interracial wedding, as some once objected to, or a second-marriage wedding, as some object to now, or any other wedding he objects to). These things have never been required and nobody is asking that they should be.

While marriage and religious belief are one creature in the minds of many people, they are separate things in the law. Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism, for example, refuse to recognize secular divorce. But few argue that we should refuse to let people divorce for this reason. One can be divorced under the law but married in the eyes of the church. The statuses can be separated without a diminution of religious liberty. And nobody thinks that this de-linking of the two constitutes official oppression or the obliteration of religious freedom. Similarly, in principle, it should be possible to have a regime in which same-sex couples are married under the law but not married in the eyes of a given religion — all without extinguishing religious faith."


Equating our struggles with the civil rights with those which preceded ours had limited success. Our support generally comes from those who think we are born that way but those who oppose our quest for equal rights say we can choose whom we will go to bed with.

We can bridge the divide if we thought of gay rights like we do religious rights. The same argument which Carpenter uses to justify gay marriage and religious accommodation in that respect can be said for anti-discrimination laws protecting gays. The true God-fearing CEO of an industrial giant (if there is such a person) is forbidden by law from discriminating against one whose religious beliefs differ from his or her own. Hiring and promoting the "unsaved," "Christ-killers" "infidels," "pagan," or "atheist" can be as morally offensive to him or her as hiring and promoting the obese, gamblers, those who drink alcohol, and homosexuals. After all, the same bible which speaks of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah speaks of the plague "god" leveled on the Israelites and the slaying of 3,000 Israelites after they built for themselves a golden calf to worship.

Forcing the believer to respect the homosexual or gay person's rights seems no more burdensome than forcing him or her to respect the unbeliever's rights.

But gays, too, would have to see the error in their approach. They would have to realize, as Carpenter does, that the right to discriminate in accordance with religious beliefs is respectable in some limited instances. No church should be forced to marry a gay couple, just as no church must be forced to marry an interracial or interfaith couple. No school must open its faculty hiring process up gays just as it must not open its faculty hiring practices up to non-believers. The First Amendment, it would seem, would protect the faith-based adoption agency that privileges those parents who share the faith and the agency that can do that can certainly privilege those parents who live in conformance with its moral principles.

If reasonable proponents on both sides could shift the focus from the immutability to the religious accommodation paradigm we can move beyond the "signs of [the] coming storm."

They knew but...

did nothing. Why am I not surprised?

Pushing the legal boundaries got the president nowhere. Then again, the detainees, innocent as well as guilty, are still being held at Guantanamo indefinitely.

"A key issue for the White House was maximizing the power of the president -- a motivation that led the administration into a troubled Supreme Court strategy, according to several participants in these debates. A turning point, they said, came in 2004, when the Supreme Court announced that it would review whether the government could hold Yaser Esam Hamdi, a U.S. citizen whom the administration considered an enemy combatant, without trial or charge.

Jack L. Goldsmith, then head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, wrote in his book "The Terror Presidency" of a White House meeting he attended in February of that year in which Paul D. Clement, of the solicitor general's office, warned that the administration might lose the case before the Supreme Court, despite its "solid legal arguments." Goldsmith said he suggested that the administration seek a congressional sign-off for the entire detention program, something that would make it harder for the court to strike down the program.

Goldsmith's view was supported by Clement, then-National Security Council lawyer Bellinger and Pentagon general counsel William J. Haynes II -- but not, Goldsmith said, by David S. Addington, then legal counsel to Vice President Cheney.

"Why are you trying to give away the president's power?" Addington asked, according to Goldsmith, who explains that Addington thought it might suggest that the president could not act on his own.

Others familiar with the debates say Addington was supported in his view by then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, who continued to defend the president's prerogatives when he became attorney general."


President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheny were looking for a power grab. They thought the White House should have the final and only say on matters pertaining to national security even when the programs they implemented would lead to the denial of one's civil rights.

It sought to deny anyone it considered an "enemy combatant," American citizen or not, the right to an attorney and a hearing to contest their guilt let alone a trial where there is a presumption of innocence. However, eight of the nine justices said he could not, on his own, decide when a U.S. citizen can be held without a hearing indefinitely. Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, and William Rehnquist said the authorization to use military force signed after 9/11 allowed the president to detain war combatants but those captured must have a right to challenge their detention at a hearing with limited rights. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter said the AUMF did not grant the president the right to detain the war combatants and said these detainees were allowed to challenge their detention. Justices Antonin Scalia and John Paul Stevens declared any such authorization illegal since habeas corpus was not suspended. Justice Clarence Thomas, alone, sided with the president.

In Rasul v. Bush six justices (O'Connor, Kennedy, Breyer, Souter, Stephens, and Ginsburg) said foreign nationals held at Guantanamo Bay could invoke habeas corpus rights to challenge their detentions. In response the Bush administration established military commissions to hear these challenges. The same now solid coalition (minus O'Connor who by this point retired) ruled against the administration again in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld when it was challenged by those who thought it was not in conformance with the Geneva Convention's "laws of war." President Bush did not have Congress' explicit authorization to adopt standards not in conformance with the "laws of war." The Court treated this as a separation of powers case, whereby the president overstepped his bounds by establishing non-conforming military commissions that Congress alone, could authorize.

The president would have us believe that the Court's ruling puts this nation's security at grave risk. Once they are let go, these detainees, we are told, will kill again. No order from the court was issued to have these detainees released and no foreigner held at Guantanamo Bay was granted the right to a trial by this ruling. The Court merely granted the detainees a right to contest their status as "enemy combatants" at a fair hearing where they are granted the right to hear and contest the evidence that had been used against them to minimize the potential of holding indefinitely those who were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Missile Defense in LIthuania?

The Political Heretic wasn't posting when the European Union invited the Baltic States to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization but on several occasions he noted his objection to the deal. Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia had nothing to offer to the expanding alliance. They have neither the technology which we lack nor the sizable troop deployment which we could use in missions which the alliance may involve itself in.

While gaining almost nothing from their inclusion in NATO, the western democratic allies, needlessly offended Russia's sense of pride. The three states were controlled by Czarist Russia and, after a brief spell of independence, the Soviet Union.

For similar reasons, the Political Heretic finds the thought that we may deploy our missile defense system in Lithuania far more disturbing. Entertaining the idea alone, could exacerbate the tensions that have grown between the United States and Russia for the only power which the missiles would face is Russia.

We can not afford to offend the Russians. We need their help in any effort to convince the Iranians to suspend their uranium enrichment program. We'd need their help in enforcing any serious embargos that might force the Iranians into compliance.

If our president wants the United States to deploy its missile defense shield in a NATO country and the Poles don't want it, he should consider the Eastern European countries that were not officially a part of the Soviet Union - Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, or Slovenia,

A Question for the Nominees

How would Senator Barack Obama or Senator John McCain react to the decision by Iranian officials to reject this proposal?

Broder's Tribute

Today, David Broder offers a wrote a glowing tribute to the leading senators on the foreign relations committee - Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Richard Lugar (R-Indiana). I second Broder's assessment, and readers of this blog should note that the Political Heretic considered Biden his first pick for the presidential nomination in large part because of his foreign policy expertise.

"But in the years since the troublemaking Jesse Helms of North Carolina retired and Lugar and Biden have passed the chairmanship back and forth, they have established a code of comfortable collaboration that has pervaded the entire panel.
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Both these men are dead-serious students of international affairs. They travel the world and read and consult widely. There is a deep mutual respect; I lost count of the number of times Biden quoted Lugar, and vice versa, during our conversations.

As foreign policy specialists know, Biden and Lugar have conducted scores of hearings exploring the trouble spots in the world with officials from this administration and its predecessors, along with academic experts without regard to ideology."
- David Broder in The Washington Post

Both would make for good vice presidents, or secretaries of state but should either be picked the bipartisan flow in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee might be interrupted.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Iraqi Dilemma for the Next President

"If McCain is the next commander in chief, the U.S. military will tell him on day one that we can’t stay in Iraq at the present troop levels indefinitely because the cost to our armed forces is becoming unbearable; if it is Obama, the Iraqis will tell him on day one that we can’t leave Iraq precipitously because it will explode." Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times

So here's the question for the would-be president? The current administration is leaving you with a mess that may be salvaged but the cost may or may not be too high but leaving could unleash the forces that plunge Iraq back into civil war.

This leads me back to the point Senator Joe Biden made while he was running for president, and the point the Political Heretic was making concerning the president's last chance to salvage Iraq. We need, Senator Biden noted, a political settlement to resolve their ongoing disputes over the country's natural resources, autonomy, and provincial elections. Our troops, the Political Heretic noted, are a necessary but insufficient means to stabilize Iraq. They may keep the peace as long as no settlement is reached but once they are withdrawn, nothing but the factions' agreement to abide by the terms of their agreement would keep the peace.

What is your plan (President Obama or McCain) as to how we can bring the competing Shi'ite, Sunni, and Kurdish factions together behind a shared vision and direction for their country? Would you support the or a derivative of the federalist plan proposed by Leslie Gelb and Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) in which the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites largely govern their own territories (national defense and diplomacy being the exception) and if not, what are the acceptable alternatives?

The September 10 Mindset

Senator McCain (R-Arizona) criticized his Democratic opponent for the White House for siding with the Supreme Court majority granting Guantanamo Bay prisoners the right to request habeas corpus hearings. McCain aid Randy Scheunemann said Obama has a "September 10 mindset" while aides circulated a statement issued by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R-New York). "Barack Obama appears to believe that terrorists should be treated like criminals," Giuliani said in the statement. It is "a belief that underscores his fundamental lack of judgment regarding our national security."

The junior senator from Illinois accused McCain's backers of playing the fear card while noting that many of them supported the war in Iraq. "These are the same guys who helped engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq at a time when we could have pinned down the people who actually committed 9/11," Obama is quoted as saying in The Washington Post.

Obama, it should be noted, did not call for the release of detainees now held at Guantanamo Bay. He merely asked that they have a right to hearings where they can contest the evidence used to justify their "enemy combatant" status. Those who are innocent should be released. Those who are not obviously should not be released. Moreover, the senator from Illinois had on prior occasions said he might bomb Pakistan should its leadership fail to capture Al Qaeda operatives now residing in the mountainous bodr retion near Afghanistan.

One can disagree with Obama's position without the hyperbole. the war in Iraq

The Questions That Need to Be Asked

Senators Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and John McCain (R-Arizona) have taken opposing views on the need to negotiate with our enemies. Senator McCain says we should not meet with the Iranians without any preconditions. His Democratic opponent, Obama, says he would meet with the Iranians without preconditions though he now also says there would need to be some planning before any such meeting is made.

No journalist, as of yet, pressed the candidates on the limits of their strategies. Reporters should ask Senator Obama what he is willing to give the Iranians in return for cooperation in Iraq, the suspension of its uranium enrichment program, and the abandonment of its terrorist clients Hamas and Hezbollah and what he might consider his fall back plans. Would he consider the North Korean Joint Agreement a model to be reached or would he consider it a failure we should not repeat since the North Koreans could still dispute what nuclear weapons it has and hold out for further concessions down the road?

We may want to negotiate now, if only because the American public is war weary, but there are limits to any negotiations that need to be examined. What if, the Iranians are not ready to negotiate with us? Obama must be confronted with these questions.

McCain, for his part, has not not been pressed on his support for the Bush administration's policies because the media had been focused on the primary race between Senators Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York). If McCain is not not willing to negotiate with the Iranians, how would he force the Iranians into compliance if the Russians and the Chinese flout American and European-imposed sanctions? The current strategy isn't working so unless McCain is willing to go to war or win Russia and China's cooperation with economically crippling sanctions, he will have to negotiate with the Iranians or let them enrich their uranium.

Which leads us to the questions both candidates have to answer: can the United States live with a nuclear Iran and can the United States put a stop to nuclear proliferation around the globe?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Chris Matthews?

Where's Chris Mathews? I haven't seen him on the air or even call in to give his comments on Tim Russert's passing.

Update: Okay. He was just on. I think Chris Matthews was saying Tim Russert was in touch with middle America or the common man - that he never lost site of where he came from. It sounded a little weird with the example he used to back that up - the nuclear justification for going to war in Iraq - but I think that was where he was going when he used it.

Conservative Boston Herald supports SCOTUS Ruling on GITMO Detainees

There are conservatives who, by the way, support the Supreme Court's decision.

Inconsistency Alert

"...An employer interviewing a prospective employee is not free to ask the most natural human questions: Are you married? Do you have a child? How old are you? Soon "How are you?" will be banned lest one discriminate on the basis of health.

When I was boy, what people did at home was not their employer's business. Today, companies and city governments refuse to hire, and may fire, workers no matter how competent or healthy, who smoke in their homes."
Dennis Prager whining about the loss of 'good-old-fashioned family' values.

so do you want the employer asking you about your life at home or not? Prager tries to have it both ways.

RIP Tim Russert

Tim Russert was a giant in the news business. Anyone rising political star had to appear on Russert's show expecting a grilling that a select few would give. Mr. Russert's take-no-prisoners interviews with penetrative questions earned him the respect of those on the left and right alike who sought to hold those officials accountable for what they say and what they do.

This country lost a media giant today. May his successor strive, to follow in his footsteps.

Supreme Court Ruling on Guantanamo

In a blow for civil liberties, the Supreme Court overturned the Military Commission Act of 2006 establishing the military commissions granting foreigners limited rights to challenge their status as "enemy combatants" yesterday in Boumediene v. Bush (warning, PDF file).

While the court did not forbid the president or United States from holding foreigners as enemy combatants unconstitutional, it deemed the Defense Department's military tribunals an insufficient substitute:

"Based on this language from Eisentrager, and the reasoning in our other extraterritoriality opinions, we conclude that at least three factors are relevant in determining the reach of the Suspension Clause: (1) the citizenship and the status of the detainee and the adequacy of the process through which that status was made; (2) the nature of the sites where apprehension and then detention take place; and (3) the practical obstacles inherent in resolving the prisoner's entitlement to the writ.

Applying this framework, we note at the onset that the status of these detainees is a matter of dispute. The petitioners, like those in Eisentrager, are not American citizens. But the petitioners in Eisentrager did not contest, it seems, the Court’s assertion that they were “enemy alien[s].” Ibid. In the instant cases, by contrast, the detainees deny they are enemy combatants. They have been afforded some process in CSRT proceedings to determine their status; but, unlike in Eisentrager, supra, at 766, there has been no trial by military commission for violations of the laws of war. The difference is not trivial. The records from the Eisentrager trials suggest that, well before the petitioners brought their case to this Court, there had been a rigorous adversarial process to test the legality of their detention. The Eisentrager petitioners were charged by a bill of particulars that made detailed factual allegations against them. See 14 United Nations War Crimes Commission, Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals 8–10 (1949) (reprint 1997). To rebut the accusations,
they were entitled to representation by counsel, allowed to introduce evidence on their own behalf, and permitted to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses. See Memorandum by Command of Lt. Gen. Wedemeyer,Jan. 21, 1946 (establishing “Regulations Governing the Trial of War Criminals” in the China Theater), in Tr. of Record in Johnson v. Eisentrager, O. T. 1949, No. 306, pp.34–40.

In comparison the procedural protections afforded to the detainees in the CSRT hearings are far more limited, and, we conclude, fall well short of the procedures and adversarial mechanisms that would eliminate the need for habeas corpus review.
Although the detainee is assigned a "Personal Representative" to assist him during the CSRT proceedings, the Secretary of the Navy's memorandum makes clear that person is not the detainee's lawyer or even his "advocate." The government's evidence is accorded a presumption of validity. The detainee is allowed to present "reasonably available" evidence but his ability to rebut the Government's evidence against him is limited by the circumstances of his confinement and his lack of counsel at this stage. And although the detainee can seek to have review of his status determination in the Court of Appeals, that review process cannot cure all defects in the earlier proceedings. ...

... A criminal conviction in the usual course occurs after a judicial hearing
before a tribunal disinterested in the outcome and committed to procedures designed to ensure its own independence. These dynamics are not inherent in executive detention orders or executive review procedures.
In this context the need for habeas corpus is more urgent. The intended duration of the detention and the reasons for it bear upon the precise scope of the inquiry. Habeas corpus proceedings need not resemble a criminal trial, even when the detention is by executive order. But the writ must be effective. The habeas court must have sufficient authority to conduct a meaningful review of both the cause for detention
and the Executive’s power to detain.
"


and finally, here:

"Petitioners identify what they see as myriad deficiencies in the CSRTs. The most relevant for our purposes are the constraints upon the detainee’s ability to rebut the factual basis for the Government’s assertion that he is an enemy combatant. As already noted, see Part IV–C, supra, at the CSRT stage the detainee has limited means to find or present evidence to challenge the Government’s case against him. He does not have the assistance of counsel and may not be aware of the most critical allegations that the Government relied upon to order his detention. See App. to Pet. for Cert. in No. 06–1196, at 156, ¶F(8) (noting that the detainee can access only the “unclassified portion of the Government Information”). The detainee can confront witnesses that testify during the CSRT proceedings. Id., at 144, ¶g(8). But given that there are in effect no limits on the admission of hearsay evidence—the only requirement is that the tribunal deem the evidence “relevant and helpful,” ibid., ¶g(9)—the detainee’s opportunity to question witnesses is likely to be more theoretical than real. ...

... For the writ of habeas corpus, or its substitute, to function as an effective and proper remedy in this context, the court that conducts the habeas proceeding must have the means to correct errors that occurred during the CSRT proceedings. This includes some authority to assess the sufficiency of the Government’s evidence against the detainee. It also must have the authority to admit and consider relevant exculpatory evidence that was not introduced
during the earlier proceeding."


In sum:

"We do consider it uncontroversial, however, that the privilege of habeas corpus entitles the prisoner to a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate that he is being held pursuant to “the erroneous application or interpretation”
of relevant law. St. Cyr, 533 U. S., at 302. And the habeas court must have the power to order the conditional release of an individual unlawfully detained—though release need not be the exclusive remedy and is not the appropriate one in every case in which the writ is granted."


The person that the state seeks to detain indefinitely must have the right to challenge his status and the evidence which was used to justify his or her internment.

Why?

a. because justice demands that the innocent not be punished along with the guilty and

b. because a ruling that suggests gives the one charged with executive authority the means to punish his or her political opponents. +

Once again, the would-be tyrants at the White House and their weak-kneed accomplices on Capitol Hill were thwarted.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The GLBTQ Caucus

All for it but two questions?

why so few Republicans? Leaving aside gay marriage and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, what could possibly be so wrong about protecting gays from discrimination in the work place? The Republicans speak for merit-based pay and job advancements when they oppose affirmative action programs but when it comes to equal pay for women or the ENDA, they suddenly change course.

and 2: if there are 52 members as of now, why are there 19 vice-chairs?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Primary Reforms

Now that the primary campaign has come to an end the time has come for us to evaluate how the two major parties select their nominees for the White House. Publishing those recommendations while the prospective nominees are out on the campaign trail is counterproductive. Both they and their surrogates may selectively promote those recommendations that further their political careers at the expense of those who rely upon the rules in place. Such proposals are best made the heated campaign season comes to an end and the people are less susceptible to the inherent partisan infighting and polarizing that comes with it.

The New York Times, editorial board, fittingly, published its recommendations yesterday.
While the Political Heretic has no real objections to the recommendations the editorial board has made, the Political Heretic thinks the editorial writers' intense focus on the absurd but otherwise harmless privilege granted to Iowa and New Hampshire can distract us from the far more defective though obvious defects in the process.

Efforts to reform the parties' nomination processes should focus on the need for standardized rules governing who can and cannot participate in a given statewide campaign.

Do Not Recognize Caucus Results

With this in mind, the Political Heretic strongly affirms what is written in the editorial concerning the elimination of the caucuses as a means of selecting a state or commonwealth's preferred nominee. Caucuses inherently favor the candidates with the strongest political organizations, but they do not reflect the will of the people at large. As the editorial writers point out, those who must care for children or the elderly, or those who must work a given shift may not have the time required to stand for hours on end and be counted. Some voters in Texas got to vote twice, first at the polling booth and then at a caucus. This practice must be stopped immediately with the only results which are recognized coming from those decisions made in the voting booth.

Democrats Should Abolish Role of Super Delegates:

The Political Heretic largely agrees with The New York Times' call for the abolishment of super delegates for the reasons stated in the editorial but there is another reason why the role of the super delegates should be eliminated.

As party officials, these voters are far more highly susceptible to bribery, and blackmail. Opposition researchers might catch a party official in a compromising situation, threatening to expose him or her to the public unless he or she backs the researcher's preferred candidate. Moreover, party officials could sell their vote to the candidate in return for funding in their local district or for a project that benefits one of his or her financial backers.

For similar reasons, the Republican Party should not recognize or award delegates based upon victories in convention states like Wyoming. Nominees should be chosen at the polls; not in the back room.

These recommendations, while necessary, are insufficient if we want the Republicans and Democrats to pick nominees who largely reflect our values.

Close the Primaries Across the Board

In some states like Connecticut and New Jersey, party officials restrict participation so that cross-party voting is not permitted. An independent can declare his or her affiliation with a party at the voting booth but a Republican cannot vote in the Democratic primary and vice versa.

Some states, however, like California, allow independents to vote in the primary without declaring themselves for a party and in still others, like Virginia, any resident, regardless of party affiliation, may vote in a primary (but they have to select which one).

This allows voters to participate in the primary knowing full well they may never vote for the candidate that party ultimately chooses. In close elections, a partisan from either the left or the right like Rush Limbaugh can urge their followers to vote for the weaker of the two candidates or elongate the nasty fight between two or three bitter rivals.

Now it can be said that many Republicans and Democrats who participated in the opposing party's primary were voting for the better of two ideologically flawed (in their view) candidates, the lesser of two evils (again their view), or the rarely exceptional candidate they like enough to actually vote for in the general election. This, even when true, taints the party nominee's standing as the one who best reflects the will of those who belong to the party. Republicans and Democrats could always cross over and vote for the candidate of the opposing party (or even vote for a member of a third party) in the general election. They can have their say then while respecting the wishes of those who actively campaign for and vote for the candidates of the party that best address their concerns.

States which refuse to do so should automatically have their delegation power cut in half with no chance of having it restored.


Standardized Rules Governing Proportional Representation


The general excitement towards the candidates, high voter turnout, and the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegations had led the media to focus on the Democratic Party's defective nominating process but the Republicans had one that led them into picking a nominee that does not excite their party's political base. Unlike the Democrats, who allocated their pledged delegates proportionately (or somewhat proportionately anyway), the Republicans allowed each state to decide whether it would award the winner with the state's entire delegation (like New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey for example) or proportionately (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, California, Massachusetts, and Tennessee for example).

An argument can be made for distributing delegates proportionately in larger states to dilute their influence while mandating winner-take-all rules in smaller states if the party officials can agree upon a strict set of rules governing which states would conduct winner-take-all primaries and which ones would hold proportional contests. Some obviously think a winner-take-all approach is more in line with the general election guidelines while others believe the proportional approach to better reflect the will of the people.

The Political Heretic will make no argument for one or the other methods a state can use to seat its delegates but he believes one standard must be set. The 51% of voters in New York should not have their vote count for more than the 51% of voters in California and the winner of a plurality in a state like New Jersey should not count for more than a winner of a majority in a state of equal size like Georgia. (The reverse actually happened but that is besides the point since the scenario described above might come to fruition in future contests).

For reasons obvious to anyone, Senator Clinton said she won the popular vote. As I have noted on prior occasions, her reasons were faulty. No one can seriously claim that he or she best reflects the will of the party when Republicans and Democrats can vote in the opposing party's primaries, when super delegates can be bribed and blackmailed into voting for a particular candidate, when states can decide when it would hold caucuses or primaries, and when each state can decide whether it would award its delegates proportionately or not.

For the sake of the people, the parties must adopt a uniform set of standards that each state would have to follow in return for representation at the convention long before the 2012 campaign begins.

Clinton v Clinton

What does one make of this?

"There were other fault lines. Aides to Mrs. Clinton took umbrage at Mr. Clinton’s freelancing and deemed his office uncooperative — at one point, they complained, his people would not allow one of her people to ride on his plane to campaign stops. His aides, on the other hand, stewed over what they saw as her people’s disregard for the advice of one of this generation’s great political minds and bristled at surrendering control of his schedule." from The New York Times

Did Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) want a staff member on board to keep the her husband and former president on message? or did she fear another bimbo scandal?

For his part, did the former president take offense when his wife tried to keep him on message? He did, after all, consider himself one of the greatest political tacticians and strategists of all time.


And so the blame game begins. Note that the Republicans (i.e. former Governors Jane Swift and Christie Whitman and US Representative Heather Wilson) point to gender.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Clinton Push for VP: Machiavellian Power Grab or Contrived Excuse for Obama to Deny It To Her

As George F. Will noted in the article linked to one or two posts below, Senator Barack Obama can't really pick Senator Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential running mate even if he wanted or needed to. The senator from New York boxed him into a corner when surrogate Lanny Davis threatened to start a petition drive putting her on the ticket and when Clinton supporters said they had Senator Clinton's permission to let it be known she would accept the VP slot.

This may not have been the Machiavellian power grab those in the media have been portraying it as. Senator Hillary Clinton may not want the VP slot for reasons that have already been stated here and on the political talk shows and Senator Barack Obama may not want to select her as his running mate for reasons stated here and on the political talk shows (see the last post for example).

By intentionally overreaching, Senator Clinton's surrogates might have provided both Obama with excuse he needed to deny her the VP slot, and her relief from pressure to join a potentially losing ticket (assuming she really believes Obama would go down to defeat in the general election).

Good Points on Why Obama Shouldn't Pick Clinton

"On the eve of the battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Nelson, addressing his captains on the HMS Victory, picked up a fire poker and said: It does not matter where I put this -- unless Bonaparte tells me to put it a particular place. Then I must put it someplace else." - George F. Will on Obama's predicament and what Clinton basically forced Obama to do


"Obama's choice of a running mate will be the first important decision he makes with the whole country watching, so it will be a momentous act of self-definition. If he chooses her, it will be an act of self-diminishment, especially now that some of her acolytes are aggressively suggesting that some unwritten rule of American politics stipulates that anyone who finishes a strong second in the nomination contest is entitled to second place on the ticket." George F. Will on what would happen should Obama pick Senator Hillary Clinton as his running mate.


And, from a tip from one who watches "Morning Joe" - this from Zbigniew Brzezinski if you can deal with the very annoying interruptions.

"There is at least a high risk that it will be a dysfunctional presidency," the former national security adviser said. There "will be a government in exile" and "government in waiting."


Good observation. Senator Clinton behaved as if she was the nominee and in control on Tuesday night, when her rival, Senator Barack Obama in fact clinched the nomination. Bill Clinton, himself a former president, acted as if he were the one running when he warned supporters this might be the last time they see him (and not his wife who was actually running) on the campaign trail.

Both, Bill and Hillary Clinton, would vie for Obama's ear while seeking to undermine him. One served as a two-term president while the other, a former first lady, thinks she is entitled to it.

I wouldn't even give Senator Hillary Clinton or her husband a cabinet position for either would merely use the position as a launching pad to run against a President Obama four years from now. He or she will resign (on a matter of principle, no less) before Obama's first term is over and then vie with him for the party's nomination.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

David Broder's Take

The Obamentum must return.

Update in "Popular Vote" Tallies

Base again from this taken from RealClear Politics

Note: Includes Some Revisions.

Trivia Question: Which U.S. political subdivision did not have its people participate in the Democratic Primary? (yes, only 55/56 states, territories and federal districts held their own primary, caucus or convention).Answers can be provided in the comment section if interested. No prizes given.

Remember my caveats:

1. the party selects its nominees through a combination of pledged (elected) and super delegates and not the popular vote. The same holds true in the general
election, though in that case there is a standardized set of rules (voting with
no caucuses) where the winner in each state (or federal district's) popular vote
total is given all of that state's

2. not all votes are equal.

a. American citizens and nationals from the territories do not vote in the general
election. American citizens residing in the fifty states and the federal
district do. To the extent that we include the vote from the territories, we
are missing the potential votes coming from one that did not participate in
the primary.

b. An estimate (as opposed to hard data) was given for the votes in the Iowa,
Maine, Nevada, and Washington Caucuses. Obama's margin of victory - which RC
puts at (about) 110,224 - would be cut in half if we substitute Washington's
caucus for the primary. That margin might actually be larger if the hard
data was provided as to who showed up and how they voted. It could also be
lower if those people were voting for their second or even third-choice
candidate once their first pick did not meet the voting percentage threshold
to be counted.
[I'll work on the WA primary calculations for each of the four guidelines
(A,B,C,D) below] tomorrow.

c. With respect to the Washington Primary (once it is up) - it should be noted
that it was a beauty contest that would have no effect on the outcome. Voter
turnout for either or both candidates might have gone up if it played a role
in the nomination process.

d. With respect to the Michigan Primary - Obama and Clinton's voter tallies may
not accurately reflect the will of the people since Obama's name was not on the
ballot. Crediting Obama with all of the uncommitted votes (Guideline C)
overestimates his support in Michigan. Denying him any votes in Michigan
(Guidelines A+ B) underestimates his support in Michigan.

Crediting Clinton with all of the votes in Michigan (Guidelines B,C, and D)
overestimates her support in the nation. Some voters who pulled the lever for
her might have thought she was an acceptable alternative. Voting "uncommitted"
could have been interpreted as a vote against her or as a wasted vote since
that merely converted pledged delegates into super delegates. Crediting her
with no votes from Michigan (Guideline A) underestimates her support in the
nation.

e. The rules in each state differed with respect to who may or may not participate
in the election. In Iowa, voters who have not yet reached the age of maturity
were allowed to vote, provided they would reach that age of maturity in
in time for the general election. This opportunity was denied to young voters
in nearly (just in case) every other state or U.S. territory.

In some Democratic nominating contests, the Democrats alone had the right
to participate (caucus or vote) but in others, the state or territory also
invited independents or independents and Republicans to participate as
well.

f. Caucus Votes - The caucus votes must be included if only because they
include people who would have voted in a primary. However, turnout in
these contests would be lower than turnout in primary states because more
time is required. The most loyal supporters in each state for each candidate
turn out, skewing the vote or sentiment in any given state.

Also, as noted in b., those who voted in the caucuses got to vote twice - first
for their preferred candidate and then, if their preferred candidate did not
meet the voting threshold (say 15% of the attendees), for their second or
third-choice candidate. Obama and Clinton voter tallies derived from these
caucus states might overestimate their level of support from the participants.

I tried to address the Michigan issue by crediting Obama with 80% (but not all) of the uncommitted votes since we have to take Edwards' and Richardson's supporters into account (their candidates were not on the ballot either). Since Edwards won approximately 15% of the vote in Nevada and New Hampshire, so I probably am not over or underestimating his strength in Michigan by too much. The same holds for Richardson since he won 4-5% of the vote in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

With that said, I find the voter tallies where Clinton is given all of her votes (the number of those who supported her even if she wasn't their first choice is small) and Obama 80% of the uncommitted votes the least flawed in terms of providing an accurate reflection of the will of the American people (and not just because I came up with those numbers). I would also put more weight on numbers that do not include the votes from the territories since the citizens and nationals from those political jurisdictions have no voice in the general election. Claims that any candidate represents the will of the people, or has the better claim of representing the will of the people in the general election, should fall on deaf ears if they depend on voters coming from the territories.


A. MICHIGAN IS NOT COUNTED


1. Known Popular Vote w/o MI and no Caucuses but Territories Included
OBAMA 17,535,458
CLINTON 17,493,836
SPREAD 41,622 Obama wins

2. Known Popular Vote w/o MI + w/o Territories and no Caucus Estimate Included
OBAMA 17,409,843
CLINTON 17,228,147
SPREAD 181,693 Obama wins

3. Popular Vote w/o Michigan including Territories and Caucus Estimate
OBAMA 17,869,542
CLINTON 17,717,698
SPREAD 151,844 Obama wins

4. Popular Vote including Caucus Estimate but no Territories
OBAMA 17,743,927
CLINTON 17,452,009
SPREAD 291,918 Obama wins

B. MICHIGAN IS COUNTED WITH OBAMA GETTING 0 VOTES

1. Known Popular Vote w MI + Territories but No Caucus Estimate
OBAMA 17,535,458
CLINTON 17,822,145
SPREAD 286,687 Clinton wins

2. Known Popular Vote w MI but No Territories + No Caucus Estimate
OBAMA 17,409,843
CLINTON 17,556,456
SPREAD 146,613 Clinton wins

3. Popular Vote including MI, Territories + Caucus Estimate
OBAMA 17,869,542
CLINTON 18,046,007
SPREAD 176,465 Clinton wins

4. Popular Vote including MI + Caucus Estimate but no Territories
OBAMA 17,743,927
CLINTON 17,780,398
SPREAD 36,471 Clinton wins

C. MICHIGAN COUNTED WITH OBAMA GETTING 100% OF THE UNCOMMITTED VOTES

1. Known Popular Vote w MI but No Caucus Estimate
OBAMA 17,773,626
CLINTON 17,822,145
SPREAD 48,519 Clinton wins

2. Known Popular Vote w MI but no Territories and No Caucus Estimate
OBAMA 17,648,011
CLINTON 17,556,456
SPREAD 91,555 Obama wins

3. Popular Vote w MI, Territories + Caucus Estimate
OBAMA 18,107,710
CLINTON 18,046,007
SPREAD 61,703 Obama wins

4. Popular Vote w MI and the Caucus Estimate but no Territories
OBAMA 17,982,095
CLINTON 17,780,318
SPREAD 201,177 Obama wins

D. MICHIGAN COUNTED WITH OBAMA GIVEN 80% OF MI UNCOMMITTED VOTES

1. Known Popular Vote w Michigan and Territories but No Caucus Estimate
OBAMA 17,725,595.60
CLINTON 17,822,145
SPREAD 96,549.40 Clinton wins

2. Known Popular Vote w MI but w/o the Territories and Caucus Estimate Included
OBAMA 17,599,980.60
CLINTON 17,556,456
SPREAD 43,524.60 Obama wins

3. Popular Vote Including MI, Territories and Caucus Estimate
OBAMA 18,059,679.60
CLINTON 18,046,007
SPREAD 13,672.60 Obama wins

4. Popular Vote Including MI, and Caucus Estimate but No Territories
OBAMA 17,934,064.60
CLINTON 17,780,398
OBAMA 153,666.60 Obama wins

Obama wins in 10 of the 16 scenarios; Clinton in 6.

Upshot. Obama wins in every situation where Michigan's votes are discounted and in every instance where he is credited with no votes from Michigan (this definitely underestimates his popular vote total). When Michigan is counted but all uncommitted votes are given to him (this probably overestimates his popular vote total) Obama wins if the caucus estimate is included. Obama can win w/o the caucus estimate only when we do not include the vote from the U.S. territories. If the uncommitted vote is distributed so that he is credited with 80% of the vote, Obama needs either the caucus estimate (which he won) included or the territorial vote (which he lost) excluded, to win.

Something McCain Might Have to Worry About

With nearly all of the media's campaign coverage devoted to the Democratic Primary race, this has been overlooked.

Now the Political Heretic many Republicans probably switched their party affiliation to vote in race where they can obviously make a difference. Some probably voted for the candidate they considered the lesser of two evils. Others for the one they believe would make a good second alternative and still others for the one they considered the most vulnerable opponent for Senator John McCain.

That said, these numbers don't look good for the senator and he won the nomination without the party's base by racking up big leads in states where the Rockefeller and libertarian Republicans thrive at the social conservatives' expense.

ABC News' Mistakes

Two noticeable factual errors from this report:

"Obama won 11 straight primaries or caucuses in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington State, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Maine, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island."

For starters the writer(s) don't know how to count. They say Obama won "11 straight primaries or caucuses" then list twelve contests in which he supposedly won.

Mistake 2 - Rhode Island actually went to Senator Hillary Clinton.

Finally

Cross your fingers and hope this does not change between now and Saturday.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Why Senator Obama should Reject Senator Hillary Clinton

1. Nominating Clinton Means Nominating her baggage: Senator Clinton entered this race with high negatives. She is hated by the Republicans who only cynically supported her when they thought of her as the weaker of the two Democratic candidates. Questions concerning her husband's donors will come back to haunt Senator Obama when she and her husband refuse to release that information.

2. The Clinton power couple cannot be trusted nor can it be controlled: On Monday we were reminded of this when the former president said this may be the last time people may see him on the campaign trail. Talk show pundits thought he was offering us a sign that that the Clinton campaign might be winding down and that might be true but they overlooked the narcissism in his statement. He was telling us about his and not his wife's departure, from the campaign spotlight. We were expected to mis him and not the wife that was running for the oval office.

Obama cannot expect Bill Clinton to do anything but upstage him if he can't help himself from upstaging his own wife.

Yesterday, Senator Clinton not only failed to concede to Senator Obama, she gave what can be interpreted as a campaign speech, demanded a meeting with the victor, and let her supporters push to have her given the vice presidential running mate. This was his night and she chose to upstage and back him into a corner. Senator Clinton's power grab must be rejected by Obama for being out of line. He's the nominee and has to show everyone who's the boss.

3. Obama entered this election promising his electorate a change in how politics is done in Washington. He promised to reach out to to Republicans, independents, and Democrats. Senator Clinton is a polarizing figure who has just as much detractors as supporters. Obama needs a person who is respected by those on both sides of the politica divide.

4. Clinton had conducted herself poorly during this campaign season by exploiting this country's racial divisions while inviting her supporters to think of McCain as a potential second-choice president by comparing his Washington experience to hers favorably while dismissing Obama's "speech." Bill Clinton vouched for wife and McCain's patriotism but raised doubts about Senator Obama's by saying nothing about it.

Mrs. Clinton, her husband, Geraldine Ferraro, Bill Shaeen and Mark Penn needlessly injected race into election. Shaheen and Penn referred to Obama's prior drug use while Ferraro issued statements casting Obama's success in affirmative action terms. Mrs. Clinton said he will have trouble winning "hardworking white Americans."

She failed to acknowledge the voters in states Obama won by failing to congratulate him in the caucus and primary states that he won and by failing to reach out to them to acknowledge their concerns about her. She consistently refers to her 17-18 million vote lead without referring to the 17-18 million people who voted for Obama.

Senator John McCain's Missed Opportunity

The Political Heretic never expected Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), the presumptive Republican nominee, to woo potential voters listening to his speech but he really delivered a dud. The senator's slow, clear enunciates leave the Political Heretic with the impression that he is talking down to people who don't know any big words. His smiles looked forced while his grimaces appeared natural. Why McCain chuckled after he accused Senator Obama of offering unemployed workers false hope is beyond me.

Senator McCain of course reiterated his support for the war in Iraq while distancing himself himself from the Bush administration change on climate change, the Iraq war strategy, energy independence and government spending. He criticized his opponent Obama over his universal health care plan, restrictive trade rhetoric, and promise to withdraw our troops from the war in Iraq.

This of course was to be expected from the Republican Party's standard-bearer and there is nothing wrong about contrasting his views with Obama's but he missed a great opportunity to be a statesman yesterday.

His opponent made history last night by becoming the first African American of a major party to be nominated for the White House and on a night of this historic proportions, a tribute to the American people for overcoming its racist past by nominating one.

The Political Heretic expects patriotic rhetoric o come naturally from the Republican standard-bearer. As the more conservative of the two parties, the GOP looks to this country's accomplishments with a source of pride (while, admittedly, overlooking some of its faults). The Democrats, far more aware of this country's faults, seem far more uncomfortable making such appeals to this nation's unity. The Republican Party's presumptive nominee could have used Obama's victory as proof that anyone can withstand the challenges he or she faces in life to do great things and fulfill the American dream.

Senator McCain missed that opportunity and chose a far more cynical and less inspirational message, one espoused by a group that feels it was denied that which it was do.